Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Chiltern Edge School

Statement by Reading council’s lead member for Education Councillor Tony Jones:

"The Council understands the concern and upset felt by parents of pupils at Chiltern Edge School since Oxfordshire County Council announced it was consulting on its possible closure.

Reading’s officers have attended a public meeting at the school and have responded to parents who have written to us confirming that Reading Borough Council will be responding to the consultation, opposing the proposed closure, informing them that the Leader, myself as Lead Member for Education and senior officers are meeting lead members and officers from Oxfordshire next week to put these views directly to them.

We are also in the process of organising a meeting for Reading-resident parents of current and prospective Chiltern Edge pupils.

A specific page on the Council’s website has been set up at www.reading.gov.uk/chilternedge giving advice to parents. The admissions team are also taking calls from parents on (0118) 937 3777 and emails can be sent to admissions.team@reading.gov.uk.
Meanwhile, we encourage parents to respond to the consultation directly by visiting www.oxfordshire.gov.uk by 16 June 2017.

Finally, we have been assured that Oxfordshire will continue to support the school in addressing immediate areas of concern raised by inspectors following the recent Ofsted inspection which triggered the current situation."

Councillor Tony Jones

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Redlands Public Surgery Today

Councilllors David Absolom, Jan Gavin and Tony Jones hold public surgeries for residents in Redlands all the year round.

"Just Walk In" surgeries are held on the second Saturday of every month, alternately at St Lukes Parish Hall, Erleigh Road and at the Hexham Road Community Centre. 

Surgery hours are 10.30am until noon.

No appointment is necessary, and all discussions are confidential.

The calendar for the remainder of 2017 is as follows:
  • May 13th - St Lukes
  • June 10th - Hexham Road 
  • July 8th - St Lukes 
  • August 12th - Hexham Road 
  • September 9th - St Lukes 
  • October 14th - Hexham Road 
  • November 11th - St Lukes 
  • December 9th - Hexham Road 

We also undertake regular "street surgeries" on  most other Saturdays in the year. This is where we deliver notices to you a day or two beforehand, then on the following Saturday morning, if you want to see us you all  you have to do is put up the "Please Call In" notice in your window.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Unionisation in the 21st Century

Guest Blog by Elliot Jones, reprinted from Fabian Society magazine (April 2017)

Across the world, trade unions have brought together workers to defend their rights. Through collective action they fought for improved working conditions, higher pay and equality for millions of people. 
Not only that, they have been a key pillar of the Labour Party since its inception, providing a base of financial and organisational support. 
So looking at trade union membership in the United Kingdom today seems to paint a grim picture; it has faced a nearly four-decade decline, from a peak of over 13 million in 1979 to less than half that in 2017. 
Whether because of more stringent union regulations, decline in the manufacturing bases they traditionally drew support from or the perception that have become antiquated behemoths that are more concerned with party politics than workers’ rights; trade unions have clearly struggled with the transition to the 21st century. 
Yet as we look ahead to the new economy, trade unions only have more challenges to face. Perhaps the starkest is that of automation; while the steps towards mechanisation provided the conditions for their creation, this ‘fourth industrial revolution” may well be their undoing. With autonomous vehicles, self-checkouts and other innovations encroaching on every sector, as many as 35% of UK jobs face being axed in the next 20 years. 
This means a declining workforce for unions to draw on and those workers becoming less crucial to business, weakening the remaining bargaining power they do have. 
The second and more immediate challenge is the rise in unstable “gig economy” jobs. With over 900,000 on zero-hour contracts and 1 in 7 workers self-employed, up from 1 in 9 in 2000, increasing the idea of entire career at a single employer is becoming a thing of the past. 
This more fragmented labour market means that unions may find it more difficult to establish clear, long-term relationships and achieve bargaining power with firms on behalf of members who constantly move around. 
Further workers with rapidly changing circumstances may find it difficult to determine which trade union is right for them. 
So what can trade unions do to overcome these challenges? 
One possible avenue is adapting their negotiating approach. Rather than take a neo-Luddite stance and fight to protect jobs at all costs, the best path forward is working with employers to embrace the benefits of automation and growing flexibility, to make sure that workers receive their fair share. 
This would mean pushing for a gradual transition, ensuring workers are given realistic and funded opportunities to retrain and helping people plan for the future. A second solution may involve looking to the past. Reorganising into single professional unions that provide much clearer options for who workers should turn to in their sector and connect more personally with members in a particular sector. This would also help them seem less internally focused, while still allowing them to conduct important cross-union and party political action through federations like TUC. 
Finally, trade unions could look to the start-up world for a little inspiration. Many fields, especially those in the service and digital sectors lack dedicated unions tailored to their needs; through a trade union incubator, established unions could provide their wealth of expertise, support and funding to those seeking to establish a foothold in underrepresented areas and provide a forum for the development of future union engagement tools. 
With these strategies available to them and the suggestion union strength may have declined because they have achieved so much already, the future of trade unions and their cause may not be so bleak after all.